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Data Security/Privacy: Nigeria on track with digital ID registration target –World Bank

Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of NDPC

*The World Bank, in its  2023 Annual Report published end of March this year, highlights Nigeria has registered 104.16 million NINs for citizens, lessons learned, and the impact of initiatives, including ID4D and G2Px, in promoting safer and more inclusive digital ID and government-to-person payments systems

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The World Bank, in its recently published 2023 Annual Report, has stated that Nigeria is well on course to attain a target of issuing digital identity (ID) to 148 million citizens by June 30, 2024.

ConsumerConnect reports  Nigeria’s digital ID programme is run with funding from the World Bank through the International Development Association, the European Investment Bank and the French Development Agency.

The global lender, in the 82-page report titled: “Putting people at the centre of DPI”, released at the end of March this year, said that the West African country, through the efforts of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), under the Nigeria Digital Identity for Development (Nigeria ID4D) initiative, had issued 104.16 million National Identification Numbers (NINs) to Nigerians, representing 70 percent of the 148 million target.

The World Bank also spotlighted the “significant progress” achieved by the Identification for Development (ID4D) and Digitalising Government to Person Payments (G2Px) Initiatives.

It also highlighted the “achievements, lessons learned, and the impact of these initiatives in promoting safer and more inclusive digital ID and government-to-person payments systems, with a focus on placing people at the forefront.”

According to the report, Nigeria’s success so far has been attained, thanks to a number of innovative measures aimed at expediting the process for issuing NINs.

The upgrade, the report noted, includes the enhancement of the Android enrollment software, which has significantly reduced the time needed for enrollment, the building of partnerships with civil society actors to encourage the enrollment of more women, and the introduction of child enrollment which began with successful pilots.

Some areas Nigeria needs to address in meeting target

The World Bank stated the novelties and progress notwithstanding, there are several challenges remain to be cleared in order to further smoothen the NIN issuance process and make it more all-encompassing and broad-based in the country.

It said one of the recommendations is for the NIMC to further shorten the NIN issuance time by creating the possibility of real-time NIN generation, which would significantly cut wait time for NIN applicants.

On addressing data security and privacy concerns

Besides, the report equally addressed efforts at putting in place safeguards to ensure data security and privacy.

Thus in an attempt to provide stronger direction for the digital ID project, the Federal Government of Nigeria inaugurated a steering committee to ensure overall governance and coordination of the project recently.

Licensed agents to have restricted access to NIMC database

Meanwhile, as part of efforts at ensuring the safety and security of personal data of Nigerian consumers, and in response to a reported database breach incident, the NIMC reportedly, has restricted access by third-party licensees to its digital ID repository, noted Biometric Research Group.

The National Data Protection Commission (NDPC), in a statement issued March 28, Babatunde Bamigboye, Head of Legal, Enforcement and Regulations at NDPC, said investigation into the data incident revealed that “a third party, who among others, was originally authorised to provide verification services to citizens and genuine businesses, might have allowed expressverify.com to use its NIN verification credentials to conduct verification.”

The agency noted that expressverify.com is the platform where some NIN data was reported to have been illegally obtained and put on sale.

NDPC further stated: “After a painstaking review, limited access has been granted to few establishments that are providing pivotal public services, such as education and security.

“At the moment, data processing by licensees generally are to be scrutinised and only those that are cleared based on credible evidence of regulatory compliance will be permitted to carry out NIN verification going forward.”

The Commissions also noted that another preventive measure is “a series of training will be conducted in order to ensure that personnel and licensees are abreast of the duty of care and the standard of care mandated by the Nigeria Data Protection Act, NIMC’s Privacy Policy and other relevant regulatory protocols.”

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